East Lansing -- Gov. Jennifer Granholm took her case to restore funding for Promise Grants to college campuses today, scolding lawmakers for taking time off without resolving the issue.
The Promise Grants to about 96,000 college students were cut out of the state budget as legislators tried to find ways to fill a $2.8 billion deficit.
Granholm talked to about 150 Michigan State University students at a rally in front of the Hannah Administration Building, where she was accompanied by MSU President Lou Ann Simon and student leaders.
Afterward, Granholm said: "When they come back from their hunting break, when they come back from Thanksgiving, they must restore the Promise."
She said the Senate has indicated some support for slowing an increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit as a way to raise money for the grant program. The credit for low-income people is pegged at 10 percent of the federal credit, and is scheduled to be increased to 20 percent of the federal amount in 2010. She said holding the increase to 12.5 percent would provide enough revenue to restore money for the scholarship grants.
Granholm has launched a tour of state universities to rally students' support her campaign to get the Promise Scholarships restored. She visited at Saginaw Valley State University later today, and is slated for appearances at Central Michigan University, Western Michigan University and Grand Valley State University on Thursday.
At MSU, Granholm called on students and their families to call their state legislators and urge them to restore the Promise scholarships, which total $4,000 each. Students get $1,000 each of the first two years in school and $2,000 their third year.
"I stand with you, but I can't do it by myself," Granholm said. "I can't veto money into a budget."
Simon noted that those in leadership today in Lansing benefitted from the huge investment in research and education that was made when they attended college. "Our generation's promises were kept," she said.
MSU will restore the Promise Grants for students this semester using federal stimulus money, but that is not a permanent solution, she added.
Simon and the governor were flanked by student leaders, who called on lawmakers to make education a priority in the state.
"We wake up every morning, go to class, work multiple jobs, get involved in campus and community, and give it our all each and every day," said Michael Lipphardt, a junior from Rochester Hills and a member of the Associated Students of MSU. "We need our state government to wake up and do the same."
Kaitlin Aprill, 19, of Canton Township was among students at the rally.
Losing the scholarship "will mean having to move some of our saved money for future years to cover this year. I think it's terrible," she said. "As we all know: A promise made should be a promise kept."
The Michigan State University College Democrats announced today a campaign to target senators to restore the grants. The campaign will focus on pressuring Sens. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw; Bruce Patterson, R-Canton Township; Valde Garcia, R-Howell; Randy Richardville, R-Monroe; and John Pappageorge, R-Troy.
"Our message will be simple," said Mitchell Rivard, president of the MSU College Democrats. "Either you keep your promises to students, or in 2010 we will find someone that will."
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